Looking for resources on how to increase sales in retail during a pandemic? The key is to realize in many ways, brick-and-mortar retailers have a finite client base. After all, there are only so many people who will be willing to walk into your store with or without a mask on any given day.
While great marketing can certainly impact that number, your focus can’t be just about attracting new customers. In fact, if you’ve felt meeting your retail sales projections depends solely on the number of shoppers who show up at your door, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
You’re probably not consistently moving the shoppers who already come into your store from browsers to customers who purchase from you that day. You have to keep track of your conversion rates to know if you’re making progress.
You’re probably not consistently using suggestive selling of additional products your customers could use but are never shown. We're hearing more and more of standoffish associates during the time of COVID-19 who believe customers just want to get in and get out quickly. That's costing you money.
Your staff may have created a culture in your retail store of price selling — what’s on sale, what’s cheapest, and even the attitude of I’m not trying to sell you. After all, with unemployment still stubbornly high and analysts suggesting the next 6 to 12 months will be rocky, their mindset is understandable.
But that doesn't make it right.
When customers leave with only one item and not with everything they need, a competitor gets their additional business and a chance to make a loyal customer out of one who should have stayed yours.
In short, you’re settling for crumbs when you could have the whole feast.
The best approach must capitalize on the visitors who do enter your store — whether it’s 20 or 50 people. Routinely building higher per-ticket sales is a win-win.
With fewer shoppers and seasonal downturns, you can still meet your sales goals. Selling higher per-ticket averages directly boosts your bottom line.
How do you improve per-ticket averages and increase overall sales?
The best way to answer the question of how to increase sales in retail is with retail associate sales training that cultivates an atmosphere of value selling.
Your sales associates need to be constantly aware of how to sell the value of a single product over the price of the product, while looking for ways to enhance that value with additional products.
Not only will this lead to more upsells and add-ons, it will also help eliminate the need for markdowns to move higher-value items.
Practical retail sales techniques and strategies
With these retail sales tips, you’ll boost your bottom line — and create raving fans, too.
Let’s dive in so you can stop wondering how to drive sales in retail and start taking action instead.
1. Build rapport with every person who walks in your door
I’m starting my list of sales ideas for retail with one of the most important: build rapport to create a world-class shopping experience for each and every customer.
Now, exceptional shopping experiences begin with exceptional employee skills. Your staff needs to know how to engage people from all walks of life in a genuine manner. That means getting out from behind the counter because they want to, not because you have to tell them.
Those employees must be able to listen to why the customer walked through your doors today, identify their motivators to buy, and link all of your products in a way that encourages them to buy.
When they build retail sales rapport and connect with their customers, it will keep customers from browsing for better deals on social media while standing in your store. It will also lay the groundwork for a true relationship where each looks forward to seeing the other again, increasing customer retention.
That also makes it easier for the sales associates to suggest add-ons because they are seen as human beings, trusted advisers, rather than nameless clerks.
2. Treat your sales process like a good script
Whether it is from poor hiring, a lack of training, or an unspoken belief by your crew that if people want something they’ll ask, employees frequently leave their shoppers on the sales floor waiting.
Waiting for someone to talk to them. Waiting to be rung up. Your untrained employees, on the other hand, are waiting for the shopper to ask a question, or worse, are waiting for them to leave so they can jump back on their smartphones.
When you have a consistent sales process, like a good script, everyone understands the plot and exactly how to get to the happy ending of a purchase — or, more specifically, how to increase sales in retail.
3. Optimize your retail marketing strategy
Many who create social media posts or help with the retail strategy for advertising a retail store don’t have the passion or creativity a business owner has to show and sell.
Outsourcing your social media posts — while one option — isn’t the best answer when it comes to advancing your brand or ways to increase sales in retail. Clogging your social media with stuff doesn’t encourage visits.
Because you concisely know who your customer is and you know what answers they are looking for in their daily lives, you can create social media that passionately addresses their concerns and holds their attention.
4. Always be value selling over price
Value selling is the foundation of how to increase sales in retail. It’s easy to mark down items or steer customers toward the cheapest option. Heck, that’s 90% of retail business help these days. However, markdowns are bad for profit, and the cheapest option is rarely the best option for the customer.
With the proper understanding of the premium products they’re selling, salespeople can keep the conversation focused on the long-term value those products offer. Once customers understand that there truly are differences in quality from good to better to best, they’ll be more understanding of the price differences between those levels.
A good tip is to teach them the differences in your most popular SKUs and then have them tell a story using the Feel, Felt, Found Method and say, “I used to feel that way too about the price of this item. I felt it was too much. That was until I found out how much (better made, easier to use, quicker, etc.) it was over the others.”
Having established the value of the product in the customer’s mind, it’s easier for the salesperson to then segue into a conversation about add-ons.
5. Embrace all stages of the buyer’s journey
When you miss the first two stages of a buyer’s journey - #1, making them aware they have a need and #2, getting them to consider you as a source of how to solve that need - you just focus on #3, getting them to buy.
That usually leads to too much emphasis on discounts, to get those who have decided to buy. It also often misses an opportunity to upsell.
When you keep in mind all three parts of the shopper journey, you are able to come up with compelling videos, blog posts, articles, and newsletters that focus on just one aspect of the buyer’s journey at a time, so you can reach a broader audience and increase retail sales.
6. Use suggestive selling to boost average check
Salespeople who have an in-depth knowledge of the products they sell should also have a clear understanding of the items that complement those products. If they work in electronics, they know that even the best 4K television only offers limited sound quality.
That can lead directly into a conversation about soundbars or surround-sound systems. An apparel salesperson knows that a beautiful dress is not, by itself, an outfit, and a camera salesperson knows that a camera has a lot of lenses and focal lengths to make it truly an artistic device. The customers leave with products that exceed their initial expectations, and the salesperson gains higher per-ticket sales from their upsell.
To learn how to increase sales in retail effectively, your salespeople need to see the full picture when it comes to their product lines, more so than the product features.
Even if they don’t know the specifics of an add-on but understand the concept of what it does, they’ll be able to create additional value for their customer and not settle for clerking a single item.
7. Describe compelling features
Unless your shoppers are engineers, facts are boring to most of them. When you lead with just a long list of facts about the product, you lose most shoppers’ interest right off the bat. What your shopper cares about is how your product will help them do more, be more, and enjoy life more.
When you focus on your customer first, you look at the poorly performing product they are using, at the project they want to complete, or the gift they want to give and understand they aren’t just buying something — they’re upgrading their lives or someone else’ life.
8. Remember your own story
Rounding out my retail sales techniques and strategies is this: remember your why.
The world is full of retailers who have no soul, no point of view, and no passion. Shoppers, especially millennial shoppers, are looking for a brand that is authentic. One who can lead them to a cause.
One who can say, “I created this store because I wanted a place where people like you could come and shop.” Or retail associates who have embraced the product or lifestyle their brand represents.
They are especially focused on social responsibility and how you make the world a better place. When you focus on your story and train your employees to share theirs, it makes a connection and shows your humanness. The result? Your staff knows how to increase sales in retail.
Ready to start using these retail sales tips?
In my visits as a retail consultant, when I ask about something seemingly obvious I often hear, “Oh we used to do that. I don’t know why we stopped.”
It doesn't matter the reason.
When you’re starting out, you’re often hyper-focused on the customer because every sale means the difference between you making your payroll or missing it.
You were hungry. Oftentimes you hired people who were hungry too, and knew how to make sales in retail.
People who enjoyed the sport of building a sale. Employees who enjoyed the challenge of adding on, of getting people to treat themselves, and of having fun.
You created energy in your store. Anyone could walk through the doors. Anything was possible.
It still is.
The retail sales tips in this article will help you get started or reignite your original passion. Then, it’s up to you to train your staff. Get more out of your existing customers — and learn how to strategically target high-value shoppers — with the right online retail sales training program.
Sales RX is unlike any other retail training available. It is possible to grow your business — even during a pandemic. Learn more about my award-winning online program, and start seeing double-digit sales increases month after month.